Mass Transit Grants:

Development Time Frames for Selected UMTA Projects

RCED-91-184FS: Published: Jul 11, 1991. Publicly Released: Jul 11, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the amount of time it took state and local agencies to complete the Urban Mass Transportation Administration's (UMTA) project development process, focusing on the differences between the established time frames and the actual processing times for 10 projects.

GAO found that: (1) the overall time to complete the UMTA project development process, excluding the system planning phase, ranged from 39 to 69 months, with an average of about 58 months; (2) although the UMTA project development process could be lengthy, the time frames for the proposals were generally shorter than the estimated times; (3) the UMTA development process requires approval of four phases including systems planning, alternatives analysis, preliminary engineering, and final design; (4) the approval time of the system planning phase for 5 proposals that had sufficient information to determine such time frames ranged from 1 to 7 months, or 6 to 18 months less than the estimated time; (5) the time to perform the technical analyses for 7 projects ranged from 13 to 31 months, instead of the estimated 32 to 40 months; (6) the time for transit agencies to complete the preliminary engineering phase and for UMTA to approve the final environmental impact statement and issue a letter of intent ranged from 19 to 34 months, or 30 months to 42 months less than estimated; (7) the time to complete the final design phase ranged from 3 to 23 months, with an average of about 13 months, instead of the estimated 21 to 30 months; and (8) such factors as the complexity of project alternatives, environmental impacts, status of local planning databases, quality of analysis tools, and staff competence and motivation affected UMTA ability to review and decide on proposals.

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